Ohio Governor Bob Taft has announced a number of initiatives to utilize state resources as energy sources. The most immediate are plans to expand the state’s production and use of ethanol and biodiesel.
Taft made the announcement last week during a visit to Greater Ohio Ethanol in Lima, Ohio, during which he presented a check for $5.9 million in state incentives. The $80-million plant, when full operational, will convert 20 million bushels of corn per year into more than 56 million gallons of ethanol.
Under Taft’s plan, Ohio will:
Double E85 ethanol use in the state fleet from 30,000 gallons to 60,000 gallons per year by January 1, 2007. After 2007, Ohio will increase E85 usage by 5,000 gallons each year;
Increase biodiesel use in the state fleet by 100,000 gallons annually starting in 2007. The state is currently committed to using one million gallons by 2007;
Purchase only flex-fuel vehicles that can run on both regular gasoline and E85 ethanol blend as state vehicles are replaced. Ohio already has 1,710 flex-fuel vehicles; and
Tripling the number of E85 pumps available to Ohio consumers by the end of 2006.
Taft drove up to the Greater Ohio Ethanol plant in a flex-fuel vehicle owned by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Wind. The governor also announced a pilot incentive program to encourage the production of more wind power in the state. The program would set aside $25 million from the Energy Loan Fund over five years and would provide a grant for up to 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by wind. The proposal requires legislative approval.
Coal. Taft also outlined initiatives to leverage Ohio’s large coal reserves including:
Working with state and federal authorities to plan for a pilot plant to produce synthetic jet fuel (JP8) from coal;
Committing to help fund a comprehensive statewide assessment of coal resources to better understand the distribution, quantity and quality of the state's coal resources (the last such assessment was completed nearly 50 years ago);
Exploring ways to make geological data critical to future Ohio-based oil and gas development easily accessible in digital format; and
Reiterating the state’s commitment to attract FutureGen, a federal project that will bring a $1 billion clean coal electricity generating plant to one of a number of competing states.
Efficiency. Taft proposed using $3.6 million from the Energy Loan Fund, which supports energy efficient projects for residences and businesses, to invest in approximately 40 energy efficient projects for state government buildings in order to reduce energy costs. The state would then use the savings from these projects to pay back the investment and make long-term purchases of renewable energy. The Governor also proposed an Energy Standards and Reporting Task Force to report on state government energy use and efficiency.